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THE GREENS IN SCALING “A Reflection from the Re-Imagining Scaling Conversations with the Pinnovation Academy Innovators”

By:  Geanette “Chie” Galvez, Center for Disaster Preparedness

Project Manager of Pinnovation Academy

Who says that innovation is not for people immersed in communities?  The Pinnovation Academy's experience with its innovators proved otherwise because innovation can be learned.  Innovation produces viable solutions to DRRM issues and concerns. Innovative solutions can be simple yet very useful to the communities.  That is the very important characteristic of innovation: its usefulness.  The community innovators' experience as they were welcomed to the world of innovation made them imaginative, creative, inventive, unique, and novel.  The Academy, with its partner innovators, is now in the scaling stage.  

Scaling has no direct translation in Filipino. We have locally “pagyabong,” or growth, and “pagpapatuloy,” or sustain. We have many different terms to characterize scaling in the context of innovations, which vary in their actualization. We may have different words to define and describe scaling, but the following key concepts are important for the communities in giving scaling its content and substance. The acronym GREENS captures these intertwined concepts.  

G for Growth - Innovators desire growth.  This refers to the ‘wanting’ to have more strength and capacities to nurture and harness what is already there.  Essential in the scaling process is strengthening current organizational and individual capacities, as this builds the confidence to continue to grow.  This means the organization’s growth and the community's overall assets, which include human, social, and environmental.  These internal assets may be able to sustain the innovation.  At the very least, these assets can temporarily support the innovations when there is no or limited external support.   

R for Reach – Reach out for support to all stakeholders.  This means the promotion of innovations as viable DRR and CCA solutions.  More support is needed to be reached towards additional funding, deepening study for more enhancements and technical expertise, and opening more opportunities for learning and sharing and adaptation/replication through policies and new collaborations.  This reach covers different levels of governance, the private sector, the academe, and other like-minded Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

E for Evolution – Scaling is a continuing process involving the evolution of community practices whereby traditional, local, and indigenous knowledge is strengthened, revived, promoted, and institutionalized.  In some contexts, local indigenous knowledge is merged with technology to adapt to changing needs.  This evolution does not leave the past behind; it brings with it the good practices in the communities since time immemorial.  For indigenous communities, scaling means strengthening identities and becoming prouder of a culture that fosters community resiliency amidst adversities. 

E for Expansion – Most innovators aim to expand in the coverage area.  Simply put, this is replication in another community or more communities.  This objective sprung from a personal transformation, and these innovations are vehicles to reach out and help others, especially those groups and communities experiencing the same context of marginalization and poverty.  In this light, sharing knowledge and skills is more pronounced during the scaling phase.  We want the positive results of the innovations to be experienced by other communities.   

N for New Elements—Scaling means developing/enhancing current prototypes, ultimately leveling up their benefits and usability. Considering innovation's specifics, these new elements are necessary upgrades, like higher yields, improved mechanisms, increased access, cost-efficiency, healthier relationships, and greater influence. New elements bring more innovativeness to an already creative solution.    

S for Sustainability – this means nurturing the innovation ecosystem.  To nurture this ecosystem, we need to provide more conversations that would encourage other community innovators to go through the same journey.  This means sustaining the culture of innovation, whereby mechanisms and support systems are in place, providing an enabling environment for innovators.  Sustainability goes beyond the physical maintenance or sustenance of an innovation.  It goes beyond a single organization and community.  How about a movement of solidarity among fellow innovators for sustained learning and strengthening? This is where the ‘Academy” becomes essential, as the culture of community-led innovation will continue to spread in many forms and spaces.  

Innovation has contributed to the communities’ bolstering of assets, agency, and trust with one another.  Scaling, in sum, provides an enabling environment for courageous DRR and CCA community champions who confidently work towards their self-determined path to development through innovations.  The innovation journey has transformed community members into local experts, demonstrating their amplified voices and sharing their knowledge.  They are now the leaders, the lobbyists, the communicators, the promoters, the facilitators.  Failure may still happen in this stage, but with the GREENS already taking its course, any setback will be difficult to dampen an innovator’s spirit and aspiration.  How can we not support the meaningful journey of community innovators with genuine and concrete results?  

(Pinnovation Academy, a community-led DRR, CCA innovation project in the Philippines is now implementing its Scaling Phase for eight (8) innovations.)     


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